COL Paul Richard Wirth, USA, Ret., of Coral Gables, Fla., passed away at 92 on Dec. 23, 2021. Wirth was born in Central Hershey, Cuba (now known as Camilo Cienfuegos), a model community 50 miles east of Havana. Established by Milton Hershey in 1916, the company town employed many, including Wirth’s father, Harry Clinton Wirth, at the chocolate maker’s sugar mill.
Wirth began school in the Hershey one-room schoolhouse. He attended the Ruston Academy in Havana and graduated from Florida Military Academy, St. Petersburg, in 1948. Wirth was a wrestler and played football.
Wirth attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was the president of the Yachting Club. He graduated in 1952 and married Herminia Chirino y Alonso that summer.
Wirth served as an infantry officer for 24 years, including three hardships tours, twice to Korea and once to Vietnam. He was a two-time Legion of Merit recipient and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in combat.
From 1961-1963, Wirth was stationed in Berlin, Germany. He was briefly captured by the Stasi (East German Police) while on a covert mission in East Germany. It was a Cold War international incident that made the U.S. news.
In 1967, Wirth served as senior province advisor in Go Cong Province during Vietnamization. He led South Vietnamese troops, and according to intelligence sources and village locals, the Viet Cong had a price on his head.
In 1968 he earned a master’s degree in personnel management from George Washington University while posted at the Pentagon.
Retirement and Business
Upon retiring from the Army in 1976, Wirth took the reins of Johnson Shipping from his aunt Cassie Park. Later, his son Paul R. Wirth Jr. joined him in the Miami River firm.
Wirth and his wife were longtime Coral Gables residents. In 2019, they moved to an independent living apartment in Kendall.
Wirth is preceded in death by his mother Irma Park Wirth, father, Harry Clinton Wirth and sister Jean Kaleta.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Herminia C. Wirth, son, Paul R. Wirth Jr. (Linda Yusman Wirth), daughters Deborah Wirth (Jafet Gonzalez) and Carolyn (Carrie) Wirth (Christian Palmer) and grandsons Christopher, Jonathan and Jordan Wirth.
Services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2021. Visitation from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Van Orsdel Funeral Chapel, 11220 N. Kendall Drive, Miami 33176 and Mass at Saint Louis Catholic Church at 1 p.m. 7270 SW 120th Street, Pinecrest 33156.
Wirth will be interred at South Florida National Cemetery, Lake Worth, Florida, with Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Posted in: Miami Herald
Posted on: 2022-01-05
Link to original obituary: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/herald/name/paul-wirth-obituary?id=32068163